After mixed results in last year’s County Basketball League (CBL) season, the Portland Coasters are only looking ahead in 2021.
With the injection of positive, young talent and the development of their existing team, the Portland Men’s team will drive hard this season to see them land within finals contention.
Across the shortened six- week South West Men’s conference, Portland will face five other teams, including the Colac Kookas who finished one place above Portland in a finals spot in the CBL 2019/20 season.
With the CBL postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, Portland Coasters’ head coach Rebel Noter said he is thrilled for the 2021 start date to be in his sights.
“I think it was hard for everyone involved during lockdown and the break of basketball we had,” Noter explained.
“For many of our players, administrators, volunteers and supporters, basketball provides an important social connection within the Portland community.
“The general effect of COVID-19, particularly on smaller communities, has had a wide-reaching impact on people’s general health and wellbeing.
“The team and I are relieved that we are able to get back on the floor and are pleased that the league has been able to salvage some form of competition after such a long break of no basketball, including domestic competition and any form of training.”
Having been a head coach for the last 10 years with Warrnambool and Portland Men’s and Women’s CBL teams, Noter knows all too well the drive that can build after just falling short in a season.
Reflecting on his team’s performance last season, Noter said their progress outweighed the results.
“While it was a bit disappointing to just miss out on finals due to the availability of players at that end of the season, it was really pleasing to see the development and improvement of several individual players throughout the season,” he said.
“This season’s game plan will expand off last years to ensure the development of players in our team.
“Our main objective is to give the young Portland boys who have just come out of Under-18s exposure to a higher level of competition and for the team to remain competitive.”
Key playmakers for the Coasters 2021 team will be the more experienced players who have been competing at the CBL level for a few years, including veteran Trenton Johnson, David Denboer and Jackson Dunlop who will bring experience and leadership for the younger players coming through.
Portland is set to get its season underway this Saturday as the Coasters prepare to face the Ararat Redbacks in the first round of the CBL’s South West Men’s conference.
The top three teams from last season’s South West Men’s in Geelong United, Mt Gambier Lakers and Horsham Hornets will not be competing in CBL 2021. This is set to shake up the conference and allow for new talent to take the top tiers.
Noter expects one specific team in the competition to challenge his Coasters the most.
“The biggest competition at this stage is probably Warrnambool if you go by their current team list, which includes several of their Big V players,” he said.
“In saying that, the overall challenge for our team to overcome this season, I think, will be the young players getting used to the fast pace of the game at this level.”
While the ultimate prize of a title is on every coach’s mind, including Noter, everyone’s priorities will be the safe and long-awaited return of basketball on the courts of Victoria.
After the tumultuous 2020 the sport has endured, Noter has high hopes for his Portland Coasters to set new standards while keeping the core values of basketball at hand.
“I think what I’ll enjoy the most this season is the comradery and friendship, both at a team level and within the league. Everyone gets on well while maintaining a good level of competition on the court,” he said.
“I have faith that my team can take out a title in 2021. You always go out to be competitive and, with the short season this year, you’ll only get to see each side once before finals.”
“Really, everyone has a chance to make finals and ultimately take out the title. It just depends on what you bring on game day, so we will just take it one game at a time.”
Portland Coasters will take on Ararat Redbacks in CBL Round 1 on Saturday 9 January at Portland Basketball Stadium from 7pm.